Glaciers, Deserts and meeting great people

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jeckyll, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Teasers:
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    Planning:
    For quite a while now I'd wanted to ride to Northern Canada, first to Inuvik (because the road ended there) and then to Tuk once they pushed the road through. A buddy of mine was heading up in his truck for vacation this year and that brought back my desire to go. My current contract was up on Aug 2nd and I thought that would be a good time to head out.

    The real push to go was when I went to the North Central Washington GTG and ride and talked to some folks that had been :)

    Once the decision was made to go, I read up on what people had experienced, started thinking about what I'd need for the bike and the trip. A spare 5 L gas canister was a must, warmer cloths so maybe an extra dry bag, some spare brake pads and a new set of Shock Socks made the list and were ordered. I also bought a smaller stove, some new gloves and ordered a Tractionator GPS tire as I wanted something that would make the trip.

    Shiny new rubber!
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    Crash bars mounted, oil change done:
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    I mapped out the kilometers and it looked like a minimum 14 day ride, which included two rest or flex days (i.e. if the weather sucked or I simply needed a break. Not too bad and totally manageable, though I'd be averaging between 500 and 600 km / day, much of it highway. Very different than the rides I normally take, which are meant to maximize time on the side of the tire.

    The living room soon looked a bit messy as I worked on packing and figuring out how to best carry everything.

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    I really thought this trip was going to be about the riding, but in the end it turned out to be much more about the people I met, and rode with, along the way :)


    Saturday - Day 0:
    Final packing proceeded pretty quickly, I'd had a complete list from a decade-plus of road trips, it didn't need that much tweaking.

    Before going I really enjoyed Dynobob's thread about his trip to the Yukon, and based on his advice read "Klondike - The last gold rush" by Pierre Berton. Great book, and I love this quote at the beginning:

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    #1
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  2. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Sunday - Day 1: New Westminster to outside of Horesefly, BC
    The weather looked good, touch warm but nice for riding.

    I got the bike loaded, bit awkward due to the extra beer I was carrying. I was spending the first day at my dad's place and couldn't arrive empty handed of course.
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    Given that it was a Sunday of a long weekend, I didn't expect to have the road all to myself, but still took the Whistler - Lillooet route as I wanted a bit of scenery :)

    Had a decent run on Duffy Lake, passed numerous cars and a bunch of cruisers, nothing too hectic though with the bike fully loaded. Stopped at the Lillooet reservoir and had a snack and took a couple of photos. Such a beautiful spot!
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    Next stop was Clinton, just for some gas, and then 108 mile for another snack.

    I parked next to a Harley and met Bert and Anita from Belgium. Great people, we talked about their trip and since they were heading to Vancouver Island I was able to tell them a bit about the roads and possible camping spots. Great people, he rides a BMW RT back home but couldn't find one to rent, hence the Harley ;)

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    After stretching my back and walking around for a bit, it was back on the highway and towards Horsefly.
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    Rolled into 'town' pretty much on time, the new rear tire did pretty good on the easy 15 km of gravel that it took to get to dad's place.
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    I was definitely glad to get off the bike and knew I had to change the bag setup. I couldn't get comfortable all day due to the way I had the bags loaded. So tomorrow would be a bit of a test of a new way of packing the bike ...

    But for now it was time to rest, drink some beer and eat some good food.
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    Home grown veggies and venison burgers :)
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    Their neighour, Bruce, came over as it looked like they were finally going to have a couple of dry days to get the hay in wearing a "Vegetarian: Old indian word for bad hunter" shirt, which was a good fit given that we were having venison ;)

    Next: North and East and some pesky(?) BMW riders? ;)
    #2
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  3. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Day 2: Horsefly to Smithers

    I woke up and had a great home-cooked breakfast (sorry, no photos, we were too busy chatting and drinking coffee).

    Then I loaded up, trying to spin the whole load around so I'd have a bit more space behind my back. Now I was heading into places I hadn't been, and riding further North than I'd ever ridden.

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    Dayna and Dad had given me some tips for cutting off some of the 'commute' through Williams Lake, so I popped towards Likely and then took Mountain House road down to Hwy 97 (no packaged meals were offered anywhere along it, I checked :) ).

    It was a nice ride through the countryside and I stopped before the highway to tighten some straps and change some layers, it was warming up already.
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    Nothing to exciting heading up towards PG, though I did pass the place where the highway had been shut due to a deadly collision just two days before.

    Got some gas in Quesnel and didn't slow down much for Prince George. The bike did have a weird stumble at a traffic light and of course I got concerned about what was going on. Never did that before and I've ridden in temps as high as 42 C, way hotter than it was currently.

    Finally had to take a break to eat a banana and switch to my hotweather gloves, the temps were in the mid to high 20's (80+ F for you in the US).

    Not a lot of pictures, this was mostly a commuting day. Lots of this:
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    A couple of guys on BMW GS's caught up to me and we traded positions for a while as we worked through traffic, having a good time.

    Then they pulled over, I wasn't sure why.

    In Houston (now in the 30's, or 91 F for you US folks) I had to stop to take a photo of this giant fly-rod! Michelle (my significant other) fishes, I hunt, so I had to make sure I got this :) (SuperT for scale)
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    And a shot of just the rod:
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    It was too damn hot to take much of a break, so I pushed on.

    In Smithers I did a quick google search, none of the hotels rated very highly and were all more than I wanted to spend. But the Smither Guesthouse looked good, so I popped up there. And they had a room!

    Great place, friendly people, decent rate, I was sold.
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    Fridge and nice common area, if you're stopping in Smithers, check them out.
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    As I unpacked, the two Beemer riders went past, I figured they went to the campground. So I popped own and sure enough, there was one of them coming the other way.

    So I spoke to Marko for a bit and he told me to swing by for a beer. I went over after I ate and hung out with him and Ibrahim for a while, they're both from Turkey originally but now live in Vancouver. Why I got no photos of us, I have no idea. We were going to try and meet up the next day if things worked out, though they were trying to average 800 km / day, which was too much for me, I know where my personal sweet spot is for time on the bike... and that's not it :D

    And they pulled over because Marko lost his phone and had to ride around listening to his bluetooth connect and disconnect until he found where it was, and it wasn't even damaged!

    Next: Onto the Cassiar, bears and guys who are stranded!
    #3
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  4. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Having issues with Google images, so will replace photos that aren't working going forward.

    Anyway, onwards and upwards :)

    --

    Day 3 - Stewart to Dease lake.

    Finally going to get into some smaller roads and more remote places :)

    I got dressed and headed out, expecting to meet up with the guys I met yesterday (after all, there was only one road North that we were all taking ;) ). Never did happen, I got a text 2 days later in Whitehorse as I had no coverage. Never use text messaging while on the road, WhatsApp or email are much superior if cell coverage is going to be inconsistent.

    All ready to go
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    Stopped for Coffee and breakfast at McDonalds just down the road and then got underway

    I noticed pretty quickly that I was dressed a bit light, but had all my warmer cloths buried under bags etc, a mistake I wouldn't make in the future.

    Just up the road, traditional fishing
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    I stopped for a bit, it was cool to see. At the same time, I felt the urge to push on and get onto the Cassiar. Still early in the trip and I was eager to make my way north.

    Mandatory gas stop and picture opportunity, can't miss this sign, right?
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    I was eager to see how things would play out next, I felt like I should have camped the night before and resolved to camp in Dease Lake.
    If I wasn't wearing the helmet, you'd see a face that wasn't entirely relaxed...
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    Saw a black bear just up the highway and would see one more. No photos as I was riding.

    Met a group at the junction to Stewart who were mostly cruisers with one BMW in the mix. Saved a set of sunglasses the kid on the BMW dropped at the pump and his buddy almost ran over :D
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    Good guys (and gal) and we shatted for a bit. They were excited to go to Stewart. I almost changed my plans to head there immediately, but the weather window that I was hoping for in Inuvik and Tuk was calling me.

    Just north of Bell II I had an amazing encounter with a wolf! I was coming through a right hand turn, next to a wall of dirt and rocks and in the ditch was a large black wolf, just jogging along. He heard me and looked over his shoulder and I looked right into his eyes! Gave me a major shiver down my back.

    I stopped to get a couple of photos along the way, beautiful lakes next to the highway. This is around Iskut where I got a bit gas as I wasn't 100% sure I'd make Dease Lake without running on fumes
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    And then the skies got really dark ... (continued in next post due to photo limits :) )



    #4
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  5. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Definitely looking dark ahead...
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    And for a little while it looked like I was going to be able to pass it by, the road was winding and I managed to keep the rain off to my side and ahead was looking better for a bit.
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    Still good ahead, no?
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    But then it caught me after Gnatt lake and it was coming down hard. I zipped up and thought about the fact that I planned to camp tonight. Don't like packing up wet, and then some lightning started up ahead. Hotel if possible!

    Managed to get a room in Dease Lake, not cheap, but hell look outside and I was glad to be in a nice dry room and not a tent
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    I went to the grocery store for some beer and snacks and ran into an Argentinian guy at the pumps who was riding to Deadhorse. Nice enough guy, didn't speak a lot of English. I wished him well.

    On the way back into the hotel I met Bill. His truck broke down 3 days ago, he was stuck waiting for a water pump. He rode as well and we hit it off and hung out a bit, drank a beer and planned to drink more after I had dinner.

    At dinner I met a super nice couple from the states, Dick & Marge, both 88 years old and on a road trip! They asked if I was the guy riding the bike, then we talked throughout dinner and Dick insisted on buying me a beer. Super nice folks.

    After dinner Bill and I had a few more beers, talked bikes and I shared some of my favourite roads in Oregon, which he was excited about. He wants to meet up and ride some of them :)
    Super cool guy (and he did eventually get the waterpump and made it to his cousin in Alaska).

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    What a great day, met more super people! :)

    Next: Into the Yukon!
    #5
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  6. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Day 4 - Into the Yukon: Dease Lake to Whitehorse

    The morning was pretty dark and everything was wet, though the rain seemed to have passed through the clouds were still behind. Last night there was some pounding rain at times, between that and the lightning I made the right choice not camping. I spent too much money though, so this morning it was hotel coffee and oatmeal (which Michelle had made for me :) )
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    Ran into Bill at the gas station and he watched my stuff while I went inside and paid, which was much appreciated since some sketchy guys were hanging out. :)

    North into the clouds, which at times seemed to be right on top of the road. I did see a moose which was cool!

    Stopped once I was under the clouds to get a shot, some more amazing scenery.
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    And then it was like the mountains rose right out of the highway. Gorgeous, the way the light was playing off the tips!
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    (this a little ways before Jade city)

    I wanted to stop every 50 meters to get some photos, but it was another long day today, so I kept it to a few stops
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    And then I made it to the Yukon :)
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    I had 4 goals for this trip:
    1. Yukon
    2. Dawson City
    3. Arctic Circle
    4. Arctic Ocean
    Bonus goals: Top of the world highway, Telegraph Creek and Stewart including the Salmon Glacier. And maybe Barkerville if I got a chance, but that was a long shot.

    First goal reached!

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    Stopped once more to get a few pictures and have a quick snack
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    Part 2: People you meet in Whitehorse ;)
    #6
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  7. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Teslin, which has the longest metal-mesh bridge I've ever ridden :)
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    Got gas on the other side and met Dick who also rides a SuperT and was heading up to ride the Top of the World highway.
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    Hope you had a good ride up there Dick!

    I did notice that I had a headlight out and decided that Whitehorse would be the place to deal with it. So I pushed on to make time an sure enough Canadian Tire had what I needed. Fixed it right there in the lot, under the sign that said not to do any repairs in their parking lot. Whoops :)

    The hotels in Whitehorse didn't seem that enticing, I did find a B&B though that was highly rated. And got a room.

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    They have free laundry and even had shaving cream in the bathroom, which was the one thing I forgot :)
    As I was waiting for my laundry to finish, a guy rolled up on a BMW GS. Chip and I chatted, he was on his way south to Colorado and was taking a couple of days rest.

    I scooted out to pick up a fleece as I decided I didn't have enough warm clothing, and to get some dinner. Back to Canadian Tire and then to A&W. And who's in the parking lot? Rodolfo, the guy from Argentina I met at the gas station in Dease Lake yesterday.
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    His buddy Paul was there too, they met in Stewart. Long story short, Rodolfo and I decided to ride to Dawson City together the next day. It would be good to ride with someone!

    Back at the B&B Chip and I chatted for a long time. Talked about work, riding and the fact that we'd worry about every noise we'd hear on the bike. It was a very cool night.
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    Hope you had a safe trip home Chip!

    I did tell him that his side-cases made my bike feel inadequate ;)
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    What a great day.

    Next: Dawson City!
    #7
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  8. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Vancouver
    Day 5 - Whitehorse to Dawson City

    I hurried in the morning to get everything packed up and get to the meeting point by 8 am so Rodolfo and I could ride out together.

    No Rodolfo though. I did get a WhatsApp message in Spanish, so after I gassed up I hit google translate and understood that he was on his way, but didn't know from where :D

    Just before 8:30 am he arrived and we got ready to head out. Heading North towards Dawson City I saw a young woman hitch-hiking and thought about all the missing women along Hwy 16 'The highway of tears' and how dangerous that could be ...

    Soon we were cruising through some very big country. If you've been North you know that it's quite tricky to capture it.
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    It was bloody chilly again about 4 C when I woke up (40 F), I was wearing my heated vest, but with all the waiting around and standing in the sun, I didn't plug it in before I left.

    We were having a good time though
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    Once we'd both plugged in all the heated gear we had things were much more comfortable :) My back had been bad all morning, the heated gear helped my back relax more, so double benefit. I started feeling happier over all.

    We saw another moose cow, this time with calf but no other wildlife. We stopped at a pullout just after Stewart Crossing
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    Somewhere on his phone Rodolfo has a similar photo of me, I haven't gotten it yet though :)

    The Stewart River
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    We got into Dawson at a decent time, finally a bit shorter day! After a bit of riding around, and then finally consulting google maps, we got to the campground and got a spot.
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    Definitely not a lot of space between the spots, but right downtown Dawson.

    On the way to register we met a couple of guys who'd just come off the Dempster and were telling horror stories about how bad it was. They were on large bikes and had pretty worn 90/10 tires, so I listened but wasn't too concerned. Chip seemed a more credible source of riding info.

    As we set-up we met Steve from Kamloops. His buddy bailed and he was excited that I was heading up the Dempster as he was looking for someone to ride with. Looked like I'd have someone to ride up with, which was good. The forecast called for a 60% chance of showers, so maybe the roads would be a touch damp (if this were a movie, ominous music would be playing at this point ... :-o )

    Rodolfo was carrying on to Alaska the next day, as his goal was Purdue Bay, he was doing the Ushuaia to Deadhorse run.

    We finished setting up and jumped back on the bikes to head above Dawson.
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    Quite a popular spot
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    We met Paul from Holland
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    He also just got back with his buddy from going to Tuk and told a very different story from the guys we met at the campground (who he said complained everytime he talked to them on the road). Paul was on a KLR with 80/20 tires and said "keep it at 110 km/h the whole way and you're fine".

    I figured the truth was somewhere in-between, but fascinating how different the comments were.

    Just imagine the folks in from the 1896 goldrush coming up this river ...
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    I did try my hand at a panorama
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    And a lot of selfies were taken ;)
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    Breaking into 2 parts ... :)







    #8
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  9. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

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    744
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    Vancouver
    Then we went to find food (I think we were at the Jack London Grill)
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    Dawson is a cool town, the dirt roads definitely add some 'frontier feel'
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    And then hung out drinking a bit at the campground (I claim no responsibility for the beer selection, Steve came back with it...)
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    We met a German couple on GS's who were traveling North and had come from South America (I didn't write down their names, but will find the sticker :) ). We chatted for a bit.


    I also called ahead to Eagle Plains and reserved a room for the next day. Non-refundable of course, but we got a double. All set, though Inuvik and Tuk's forecast was for a week worth of rain. Our goal was to try and dump gear at Eagle Plains, get to the Arctic Circle and then high-tail it out of there before things got too bad weather wise.

    It got a bit later and eventually we turned in, definitely not 'dark' though :)
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    Next: Onto the Dempster and towards the Arctic Circle.

    #9
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  10. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Day 6 - Dawson City -> Eagle Plains

    Slept OK, but not really enough. We stayed up a bit later than I'd planned, it was still quite light when I went to the washroom at midnight, and woke up a bit early as well. No matter, time to make breakfast and start packing.

    As soon as I got up Steve came over and said that his dog had a stoke and he was riding home, no Arctic Circle for him.

    So I was going to be on my own, who knows, maybe it was better that way. Sometimes things happen for a reason.

    Oatmeal and coffee from a package for breakfast :)
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    Rodolfo and I packed up, wished each other well and then I rode out
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    Gassed up at the edge of Dawson City, filled my jerry can and headed off. I didn't quite have enough to make the 30 km to the turnoff comfortably and was wondering if I should really stop and fill up again, what could 1 liter matter really?


    First though, I'd missed this on the way in and decided that I better get a photo:
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    But I decided that if I ran out of gas I'd feel like an idiot so I stopped and grabbed gas again at the turn off cardlock. About a liter.

    The sky wasn't filling me with confidence, but again, it was only supposed to be a 60% chance of a shower. So I thought I'd head in and see what it was like. I had enough gas to do 200 km in and 200 km back if things didn't work out.

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    Camping gear - check
    Food for 3 days - check
    Gas for 400 km - check
    Rain gear - check

    Garmin InReach - check (and turned on just in case)

    Well, time to go!
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    I made good time to start, 90 km/h speed limit was actually hard to stick to, though I tried as I wanted to get good gas mileage, just in case.

    Starts a bit slow,

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    but around Tombstone, damn is it beautiful!
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    The sky was light behind me,
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    ... but ahead it didn't look so good.

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    I remembered what Chip said, the road is actually not bad with just a touch of moisture, that'll keep the dust down. Maybe it'd be fine... Right?!?

    Well, after this there are not a lot of photos.

    I'd put my rain jacket on when I stopped at Tombstone and that was a smart move. Because the rain started after this stop. Not too bad at first, but steady and ever increasing. By the time I got over the first climb it was worse, along the Ogilvie river it was worse and by this time it felt like my front end had no wheel-bearings. The handlebars did nothing, so I steered with my feet only by leaning the bike.

    Not a big deal though, from everything I'd heard maybe this was normal.

    At 200 km in I passed my 'turn-around' point, things were slick, but not bad. Though it had now been steadily raining for 100 km or so and the rain kept getting worse. The wind picked up as well, but I was in good spirits, heated gear was on, hands were reasonably warm and only a tiny bit damp on the edge of the glove.

    At 240 km in, it got pretty bad. Orange looking mud (clay?) that was 3 - 4 inches deep and I was getting lock-to-lock slides on the bike, nothing seemed to work to have any control. I kept slowing as I was climbing, spinning the rear, losing the front, having the thing buck sideways.

    At 253 km in, I pulled over as there was a car behind me and I saw another rider pulled over at the top of a small crest...

    Continued in next part.


    #10
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  11. chip8150

    chip8150 Adventurer

    Joined:
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    69
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    Mountains of Colorado
    I think you got more than a "touch" of moisture going on there Bjorn! Can't wait to hear the rest of the story!
    #11
  12. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
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    Yeah Chip, it was really more of a downpour. But it snuck up on me. And the whole bloody time the horizon looked lighter than what I was under, promising that it would get better.

    It sucked me in. I didn't get that 4 day window I needed :)

    Anyway, on with the re-telling!
    #12
  13. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Vancouver
    Continued - Dawson -> Eagle plains (or maybe not!)

    I pulled in and talked to Marco from Argentina. He was struggling to make it up as well, was riding a 250 Yamaha but not with proper knobbies. And he had been on the Dempster for a couple of days, having started the afternoon before and camped.

    He was concerned about making it up the hills and was also beyond his turn around (at this point Eagle Plains was about 120 km ahead of us, the highway 250 km behind us). He had a couple of extra cans of gas, but had already used one.

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    I asked him if he wanted to ride the next 100+ km together so we could help each other out, he said he was pretty slow and was worried about being too slow, but I figured there was strength in numbers at this point. And after all, neither of us had enough gas to get back to the highway.

    Just after I snapped the above photo a guy pulled in driving a Jetta and asked us if we were trying to get North, he was heading South. I asked if this was the worst part that we'd just come up and he said that it got way worse further ahead. More slippery, deeper and worse mud and steeper hills. Apparently there were 4 bikes stuck in the middle of the road, he said bikes and riders were covered in mud and they couldn't get anywhere. And cars and trucks were splashing them on the way through. He couldn't stop as he was afraid he'd never get going again.

    Well s**t. Now what? Couldn't go forward, sounded like I wouldn't make it through. Couldn't go back, wouldn't make it to the highway.

    So, I talked it over with Marco and told him that given it was so much worse, I'd try and head back, maybe I could give my gas canister to someone and have it brought back to me once I ran out of gas. Or get some help...

    We both turned around and slowly headed down the hill. I'd struggled to get my gloves back on and realized just how wet they'd gotten, the heated grips kept my hands feeling OK, but things were not good on the gloves front.

    Made it down the hill, cursing and sliding, and started to do some math on what I thought I had left on gas, given my run rate. Best case, I was going to get to withing 20 - 50 km of the highway. Not close enough, but better than stranded in the muck.

    I'd need to average 4.5 l / 100 km to have a shot at it. Which I'd never done. I'd gotten to about 5.1 l on an easy flat highway. But my rear wheel was constantly slipping now, so I switched to my live mileage display and found that if I did 75 km/h in 6th gear at or below 3000 rpm I could get close. I'd wished Marco good luck, but realize that if I did his speed I had no chance.

    What a miserable ride. The road now had standing water in the small dips and pot holes and maneuvering at that low and rpm was, well it wasn't pleasant.

    Hills obviously required downshifting and burning more gas, I tried coasting down the backsides but it was just as good leaving it in gear and keeping a steady speed.

    Once the "E" started flashing and I was on reserve I did more math. 3.5 l or so of reserve, 180 km to go. 5 liters spare, which would get me _maybe_ 100 km. Well, I had a small chance.

    After 63.5 km of reserve I was still north of Tombstone, but there was a rest area and I pulled in. Had a couple of close calls with trucks driving down the middle of the road and not moving, and I didn't want one sliding into me as I filled up with the spare gas.

    I tried to get the gas in without taking my gloves off, but it was not to be. Couldn't afford to spill any.

    So very carefully I filled up, tapping the jerry can to get every last drop out. And once I secured the canister again, I couldn't get my glove back on. Four finger were fine, the pinkie just wouldn't fit.

    After what seemed like 5 minutes I had it sort-of on, went to start the bike and ... nothing. Dead. Not a whisper. Lights were on but not turning over. Kill switch? Nope, it was in the proper position.

    Task loaded, tired and hungry (I hadn't eaten anything since having breakfast, which had just been some oatmeal, it was after 3 pm or maybe even 4 pm by now), I'd left the kickstand down. Man was I happy when I flipped it up and she fired right up.

    Got up towards Tombstone park and the hail started. Now, it was so wet that I'd been riding with my faceshield up as everything was fogging up. I had a yellow lens glasses on and they were also fogging up. But my best option was faceshield up, glasses on. The hail didn't improve my mood as I couldn't find a way to ride with the faceshield low enough to keep it from hitting my cheeks at 75 km/h. Well, screw it, I couldn't afford to stop and try to fix this.

    The road improved significantly after Tombstone, still raining, but I felt like I gained some steering back. This also improved my gas mileage as the rear wheel was no longer constantly slipping.

    Annnnd my "E" came back on, flashing at me. 80 km to the highway. Maybe I'd walk the last 10 km out, get gas and walk back. No worries, totally doable. At this point, it dawned on me that I was definitely having an adventure on the Dempster. I mean, I came for one, and was having it, even though it sure wasn't the one I thought I'd have.

    Then, with about 20 or so km to go another rider was heading in. I waved him down to warn him.

    Jonathan, from WA, was looking incredibly clean and nice and dry. I explained what I'd experienced and we talked about the fact that the road was in such nice shape at the beginning.

    Guess what else, he had 5 liters of gas! He graciously let me have a couple of liters and I was going to make the Highway!!! :D

    I was so damn happy, it's hard to describe. Even as I write this I'm smiling.

    No longer having to hold back, I let the SuperT run and made it out in no time (not saying I was doing 120+ the whole way out, but ... maybe ;) ).

    Filled up and met a crazy guy with his big 5th wheel who heard about the conditions and turned around to head back to Dawson City to wait out the weather.

    I gassed up, and Jonathan joined me for a bit, getting back to the car wash. I was so out of it I never even got a photo with him, though I swore I took one. What happened I don't know.

    So, she was a bit dirty:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And this stuff stinks on a hot motor...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I had a chocolate bar while I waited, and my blood sugar improved. I should have washed the bike a lot more, but man, I just wanted to find a hotel and a shower. My pants had leaked a bit towards the end and well, let's just say I'm glad I wasn't wearing cotton _anywhere_ because I'd have been miserable.

    Jonathan and I talked about other rides in the area and since he wanted to keep riding in the Yukon he decided to turn East and ride the South Canol road, which is supposed to be beautiful and very lonely. I wished him luck. And really regret not getting a photo here. If you happen to stumble across this ride report Jonathan, thanks again!

    Now to find a hotel in Dawson on a Friday night. Downtown hotel was booked solid. I rode back out to the Bonanza Gold (right next to where I pressure washed my bike) and ... yup, they were full to. But the woman behind the counter never hesitated, grabbed her phone and called the Info Center. They told me about the Bunkhouse that they figured there was a room and if not to come to the info center and they'd sort me out.

    I got the last room at the Bunkhouse, they'd had a cancellation. Things were starting to look up. They even had rags so I could wipe more of the muck off my bags before lugging them up to my room.

    As I was taking stuff off the bike I heard someone say my name and looked up, Verana, came over to see what happened.
    Aside: I had to look up their names, but the German couple I met in the campground were Verena and Raoul: https://www.lasdosmotos.com/ check out their trip!)

    She'd seen me and knew things went sideways, as it was 4 days round trip. We talked for a bit and caught up, they'd had rain all day in Dawson so they stayed around for a day, but were riding the 'Top of the World" highway tomorrow.

    I kept gathering up my stuff when I heard my name again!

    It was Rodolfo walking down the street waving! Apparently he also decided to stick around due to the rain. I told him I needed food, but would catch him up and asked where he was staying. He pointed at the Bunkhouse. I told him I was staying there as well! We laughed and I asked what room he was in. 22. I was in 21.
    And he was riding the Top of the World highway tomorrow. Guess we were meant to ride together for another day :D I had originally planned to spend a day in Dawson sight seeing, but you've got to go with the flow.

    We met up with another guy who was staying at the Bunkhouse, Waleed (I'm probably spelling that wrong, sorry bud), who was from Morocco and was now in Dawson. He spoke a bit of Spanish and I kept trying to get him to switch and chat with Rodolfo, my mind was mush and I couldn't take in any new info.

    [​IMG]


    But, we had excellent food at the TrippleJ.
    [​IMG]

    I needed to crash and Rodolfo and I agreed to leave around 9 am.

    I'd turned on the fan and had my gear hanging everywhere in my room to dry out for the next day ... and mud covered everything despite the pressure washing...
    [​IMG]

    ... but I had a bed, had eaten and was damn happy not to be stuck out on the Dempster. And I remembered I had booked a room. I called Eagle Plains to let them know to give my room to any biker stuck there due to the weather. They told me that their refund policy didn't all apply and I interrupted them. I wasn't looking for a refund, I just wanted to make sure those two beds could be used by someone who needed them.

    They paused and said that they thought they had people who'd want the room and if they sold it I wouldn't get charged. Not why I called, but I never did have a credit card charge from them, so hopefully someone stuck there for the night got a bed instead of crashing in the lobby or having to camp in a tent in the rain.

    Before I conclude this day, this was the forecast for Inuvik, I took a screenshot Monday morning before leaving:
    [​IMG]

    I wasn't going to wait around for a weather window.

    Next: Onto Alaska! And, I crash :)




    #13
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  14. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Interlude: A quick update on some of the folks mentioned so far this report...

    Ibrahim and Marko made it to the Arctic Circle but "the return was not easy". I'm trying to see if I can have coffee with them soon to get the story.

    Bill: He's on his way home from Anchorage right now, he did escape Dease lake... and we're going to stay in touch and he's looking to buy an Adventure bike for next season. Maybe we'll ride together in Oregon next year.

    Chip: Well he's already posted in this thread, but he got home OK.

    Rodolfo: He's been offline for a number of days, but then he's in Alaska and I don't know what his cell coverage is going to be like :)
    #14
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  15. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    584
    Location:
    Langley,B C
    Thanks for doing the report, quite an adventure.
    #15
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  16. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Day 7 - Dawson City - Tok

    I was up fairly early even though I was feeling pretty tired. Stepped outside and Dawson was completely socked in. So I got some water went about making some breakfast. Yup, coffee from a package and oatmeal :)

    View from the 2nd floor of the Bunkhouse (and by this time the fog had actually lifted a bit)Non
    [​IMG]

    None of my neighbours appeared to be up
    [​IMG]

    Bikes were resting below
    [​IMG]

    After a while Rodolfo appeared and we decided to push out our departure time (sounds so official ;) ). Maybe 10, we'd see when it looked like the fog was lifting a bit, it was too thick to ride in and not-seeing didn't sound like a good plan.

    We made the ferry around 10:30 am I think
    [​IMG]

    The current is a lot faster than I thought, when I saw how much the ferry was having to push to get in, it reminded me that the steamers brought so many people to Dawson during the gold rush.

    But, more importantly, there was some sunshine appearing! Very welcome after yesterday's rainstorm :)
    [​IMG]

    Two guys on KTM's rolled on behind us. Their wifes had decided to walk on instead of riding on 2-up.
    [​IMG]

    We got to chatting and they said that they came down the Dempster yesterday. I was intrigued, because I hadn't seen them. Apparently they left at 8 am and got out at 2 pm. I went in shortly after 10 am. Never saw them, which is very curious when you consider that there is truly only one road up and down and the only places to pull out and not be seen are the visitor center at Tombstone or a campground.

    How we didn't see each other I'll never understand, as I'm not a big believer in invisibility or magic. Maybe those new KTM's come with some Klingon cloaking technology, they certainly look the part :)

    We would pass them several times as Rodolfo and I ended up taking a lot of photos, such an amazing place.

    Climbing above the clouds, we were soon treated to some truly spectacular views. Rodolfo approved
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The valley's below us
    [​IMG]

    And the sun on the tops of the ridges
    [​IMG]

    We took a lot of photos, kept passing a Swiss guy in a VW Camper and the two couples on the KTM's (not saying we were speeding between the photo stops, though the road was tacky and had zero dust, it truly felt like a gravel highway :D ).

    At the turnoff to 40 mile we passed the KTM's again, they looked to be taking a longer stop.
    [​IMG]


    If I'd been in a car with my full camera kit, I probably would have wanted to stop ever 2 - 5 minutes and spend 10 minutes composing and taking photos... but I wasn't :)

    And then suddenly we were in the clouds and visibility dropped right down. We stopped and Rodolfo wandered off into the landscape and disappeared over a ridge
    [​IMG]


    Going to hit picture limits and will break into multiple parts :)
    #16
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  17. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Continued...

    I didn't realize until I hiked after Rodolfo a bit to get a shot or two, that we were actually right at the border :)

    Anyway, I wandered around a bit and took a few photos
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Right at the edge of the clouds
    [​IMG]

    The border crossing was pretty quick, the border guard wanted to know if I had the normal banned stuff stuff, including food, and I said I had some "ChefBoy for emergencies" and she said "Gotta be a real emergency". We had a good laugh.

    [​IMG]

    I definitely look a little tired, but happy :)
    [​IMG]

    Looking down into Alaska
    [​IMG]
    (doesn't look any different than the Yukon, does it? ;) )

    A much easier day than yesterday.

    We pushed on and the road switched between tarmac and gravel, I was standing for the gravel parts and waved at the trucks when they made space. Most people waved back. Including one that had lights on top. Guess the cops were cool :)

    Next stop: Chicken Alaska.

    And it turned into a very different stop than I expected, as I pulled to a stop right by the gas pump, I couldn't get my foot off the footrest, it was stuck! So I "crashed" right there. Some folks came over right away and we picked up the bike.

    I now have a short brake-lever
    [​IMG]

    Using my Wave multi-tool I filed down the sharp edges, no big deal, everything still worked. In all the trips, this never happened. Then I thought, what if this had happened yesterday in the mud somewhere... well, good thing it didn't!

    I vowed to tighten up the pants more, they are a bit loose around the adventure boot, probably OK around a full motocross boot.

    The crash bars I put on did a great job, no damage to the radiator!

    Once I'd finished getting gas, I got the mandatory chicken picture (Michelle likes chickens...)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    She wanted me to ride the chickens, but they specifically had a sign on the lower one saying not to. So I didn't.

    We hung out a bit and had a snack, and a guy on a fully loaded AfricaTwin pulled up.

    Greg from New Zealand (NZ2OZ).
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We talked for a long time. He'd come down from Deadhorse, blown both fork seals and was not happy with the repair (exorbitant cost, slow to repair, and still leaking apparently). But a super chill guy, we traded stories, talked about riding and he had some tips for where to stay in Tok, AK where we were headed.

    Very friendly guy, says he only wanted to go from New Zealand to Australia, but took a wrong turn somewhere so now he's going the long way, around the world, to get there ;) Hope you're doing well on your travels around the world Greg!

    There were some dark clouds as we were riding South to Tok, and at times the road was wet, but we never had any rain. Our long stop at Chicken had worked perfectly to avoid any rain!

    We only made one more stop
    [​IMG]

    Took a bit to find the campground we wanted, many people here know the one: http://thompsonseaglesclaw.com/


    When we got there, Rolando and I had a slow and challenging conversation, but I found out he had his heart set on a photo with the 'Welcome to Alaska' sign and because we took the northern route, we never saw it. He was going to ride back and get his photo, then see about continuing on to Deadhorse.

    A few days later when I had cell-signal again I received this:
    [​IMG]
    With a note in Spanish that ended with ... " I leave you this photo, my dream photo! :D 300 km to take it!"

    I can certainly see why he rode that far to get it. Safe travels Rodolfo!

    When I finally figured out how the camping / cabin situation worked (the sign was covered up by the entrance) I decided to pick the cabin in case more rain came through. For a while I was all alone in the campground and it felt really nice, quiet and not a lot of mosquitoes.

    Venessa came around after a while and chatted, let me know she'd be around later to get some money. Super nice lady :)

    No pictures of the rest of the night, but the campground got more busy, we had 6 riders staying there. Some bikes were worked on. One dead GS with side-car resurrected (people, don't pressure-wash your electronics). Many beers were drunk (including in the sauna), stories were told, arguments (friendly ones) were had and I have no idea what time I actually went to bed.

    What a great day of riding.

    Next: I turn South-East and head back into Canada.
    #17
  18. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Day 8 - Tok, AK to Haines Jct, YT

    Woke up around 8 am and yup, definitely had one too many last night. But, so had some of the other folks. As I was boiling water and getting ready to make some coffee, Chris was ready to head out. Last night he'd taken off early, and I thought we'd annoyed him in the sauna, but it turned out that with all the slang he couldn't follow the conversation all that well, being German (not sure I mentioned this earlier, but I was born & grew up in Germany but have been in Canada for over 30 years).

    So we chatted in German and he decided to have some coffee with me. Seeing my choices, he broke out the real Starbucks coffee he carried and we found a french press in the 'kitchen' area (great campground!).

    I think we probably sat and had coffee and talked for an hour. I shared some tips about riding Vancouver Island, where we was going as I had ridden it as part of last summers trips, and he marked up his map so he'd remember. When I got back to someplace with WiFi I promised to send the GPX files for the island.
    [​IMG]
    Super guy.

    I'm not sure if Chris got the email I sent, I had him type in the address on my phone so I wouldn't mess it up, but I know he only had WiFi and no cell coverage. Hopefully he enjoyed the rest of his travels in North America :)

    Shot from the cabin
    [​IMG]

    And from the outside
    [​IMG]

    Note the airplane propeller on the outside, the cabin had an aero theme :)

    I'd gotten a bit antsy as we were talking as it was getting 'late' and I didn't know how far I would travel today. I was feeling fairly bushed, partly from riding so many days without taking a rest day, partly from the previous night and so I didn't want to delay too long.

    As I gassed up in Tok I saw Chris' bike in front of Fast Eddies, but I had already had oatmeal and didn't want to eat again. He said he needed about 5 coffees so I guess he was filling up.

    Riding too the border took longer than I was expecting, I had gotten the math wrong when Rodolfo and I looked at the map before he left yesterday. I kept wondering if I'd see him on the road heading the other way, but didn't :)

    It was strange riding past the US border and seeing a sign for 'Canadian border 20 km'. So for 20 km I was outside the US but hadn't officially re-entered Canada.

    Some folks were taking pictures of swans on one of the lakes by the highway, but I wanted to make time.

    At the Canadian crossing the mosquitoes were _thick_ and I put my gloves back on and left my faceshield down to keep them at bay. Worst of the trip.

    After the border, and getting gas, I came around a turn and man ...
    [​IMG]
    the scale and size of the place ...

    If there was a person on those flats they would have been a small dark spec
    [​IMG]

    The scenery was stunning, though it was hazy and anything south facing was completely 'blow-out' and I didn't stop for as many photos as I probably could have.

    Around Destruction Bay I had to stop again though
    [​IMG]

    Just afterwards, there was a section with fresh chip-seal a semi going the other way kicked up a rock about 2 inches in diameter ... and it was heading right for my face.

    You know that feeling where something bad is going to happen, but it's so fast that you can't stop it? Yup, that's the one. The rock hit my visor, made a large cracking sound and ... I assessed quickly (was traveling 100 km/h and had moved as far to the right as I could):

    • Face - intact
    • Faceshield - intact (seriously? Yup!), but clear marks from the impact.
    • All good!

    Thank you Shoei for making quality helmets and shields! There are 2 impact marks on my shield, about an inch apart. I figure the rock was moving over 180 km/h when it hit me (me moving at 100, the truck moving at 100, the rock also close to 100). Luckily a glancing blow!

    I pulled into Haines Jct and there were a couple of places with decent ratings and thought "I'm done for the day"
    [​IMG]

    I'd previously called the B&B in Whitehorse where I'd stayed when I met Chip, but they were full for the day. And I was ready to get off the bike.

    The lady at the front desk was super helpful and I got a great tip for dinner, as well as for breakfast the next morning (I wanted a real breakfast at this point, having had oatmeal 3 days in a row :) )
    [​IMG]

    After getting cleaned up and washing some stuff in the sink, I went over to the Guys & Dolls Bistro.
    [​IMG]

    The food was great and I tried a Yukon Brewing beer
    [​IMG]

    And the view was pretty nice as well
    [​IMG]

    A good day.

    Next: I got a desert!



    #18
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  19. chip8150

    chip8150 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    69
    Location:
    Mountains of Colorado
    Great food at Guys & Dolls! Enjoying your story and glad you survived the Dempster goop! That road is miserable when it gets saturated with rain!

    After 10,000+ miles and 7 weeks riding, I'm taking a break here in Colorado. Will be off the bike for 2+ weeks or so before continuing on east to Virginia.
    #19
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  20. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Day 9 - Haines Jct -> ?

    When I got up, I didn't know how far I wanted to go. I knew it'd be further than Whitehorse, but not sure how far. So I made some hotel coffee while I packed up and got the bike loaded.

    Soon enough, we were ready to roll.
    [​IMG]

    I'd gotten the tip for a good breakfast place at a truck stop 20 minutes or so out of town, so off I went (I'm bad with names and figured there wouldn't be that many truck stops with restaurants).

    It was a bit damp and I saw my first deer of the trip standing up a bit from the road. Not many of them up this far.

    Things were a touch chilly and I was happy to have my heated gear!

    Soon enough I found the spot!
    [​IMG]

    After 3 days of oatmeal, man did this hit the spot (there were a couple of eggs buried underneath too)
    [​IMG]

    And even better, a couple of Harley's rolled in and I got to chatting to one of the guys and he suggested the Yukon Hotel in Teslin as a good place to stop. He also said to call them and make a reservation, they'd hold the room and not charge my card. Good tips! When I called I got the of of the last rooms available and they'd hold it till 6 pm.

    I wasn't going to take that long, so now I had my destination and plenty of time to check out the Carcross Desert, which the Turkish guys had told me about. Off I went.

    At one of the info boards along the way I took off some layers and read a bit about the climate change in the Yukon and how it's one of the fastest changing (i.e. heat rising) places on the planet. And how deer were moving North into non-traditional ranges, which explained the deer that morning.

    Also about how the lakes were formed and the beautiful colours
    [​IMG]

    Very neat.

    And then, quick as can be I was there!
    [​IMG]

    You know a Tenere belongs in the desert, so this was good! (Nerdy side note: I briefly considered calling this ride report "To the desert on a horse with no name" - a la "America", since I don't name my bikes, but I just couldn't do it :) )

    [​IMG]

    Smallest desert in the world and most northern too! More of a big dune really, but let's not split hairs, it's a cool spot.

    As I stood there, a guy came over from his RV and we got to chatting. He has 3 bikes in the Netherlands, a modern naked bike and 2 cafe racers! I shared the kilometers I was putting on and he was impressed. We chatted for quite a while, super friendly guy and I think part of him was wishing he was there on a bike instead of cooped up in an RV with his wife and kid.
    [​IMG]

    But I might have been reading too much into it :)

    I'd debated stopping in Carcross and looking at the visitor center, but with all my luggage on and not knowing if I'd be able to see the bike, decided to push on instead.

    When I came to the Tagish river crossing I simply had to stop, right there in the middle of the bridge, and get a photo. The vastness of it all, it's stunning.
    [​IMG]

    It didn't take long from here to get to Teslin.

    In the parking lot there were a bunch of bikes and I got to speaking to the couple who was on their way up to Alaska, which would be the end of the round-the-world trip. Super nice, you can see more of their journey here: https://www.instagram.com/mundo.em.moto/

    She said they saw 30 bears in 300 km coming up the Cassiar!

    We took some goofy photos
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Just as they were getting ready to leave, another guy on a beemer came up and they chatted in Spanish for a bit. Then he and I got to talking and I got to meet Sam.

    He was heading North and we talked about road conditions, Dawson, places to camp and then he said "You want to have a beer?" Well, sure!

    So he bought me a beer and we talked more, he's a certified sign language instructor which is really cool! Lived in BC for a while too so we talked about that. Now in Texas IIRC... Just super pleasant to chat with

    [​IMG]

    Eventually he had to get going, but we traded email addresses and I sent him the link to EagleClaw in case he wanted to go camp there. He was taking the ferry down to Prince Rupert from Alaska on his return trip.

    Then it got a bit quieter.

    I was glad to have an early day. Took a bunch of notes, about the trip, looked at some weather, read a bit. Had dinner at the restaurant (I can't remember what I ate, and don't think I took a photo) and also did some laundry in the room. Though, I was going to need to do more than 'sink laundry' soon!

    Next: An un-natural forest and "wait, I know that guy" and the longest day of the trip.




    #20
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